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Full text of "Four Quarters"

f 



our 



IJnarters 



The Care and Prevention of Playwrights 



. 


By Walter Kerr 




• Page 3 


9i 


Rest Camp, a story 
By Claude F. Koch 




• Page 6 




The Two Faces of Fiction 






W 
pS 


By John F. McGlynn 




• Page 13 


IS 


Brief Candle, a poem 






s 


By Claude F. Koch 




• Page 17 


i 


Two Poems 








By Leo Brady 




• Page 18 


1 


The Sign, a story 






^^^ 

« 

« 

^ 

>% 
^ 


By Edward Garry 

To Death, a poem 
By Brother Adelbert 

Is There a Doctor in the House? 


• Page 20 

• Page 28 


1 


By Dan Rodden 




• Page 29 








0^ 


november f ifteenth. 


1951 


VI 








s 

s 


vol. I9 no. 1 • 


fifty 


cents 









The AREA OF LITERATURE of La Salle College announces . . . 

four quarters 

a literary magazine published quarterly during the academic year, 

• aimed at focusing the practice and appreciation of 
writing in the Catholic tradition . . . 

• aimed more particularly at fixing a channel of 
expression for Faculty, Alumni, and Students of La 
Salle College, the Brothers of the Christian Schools, 
and selected outside contributors . . . 

The Editors accordingly offer the pages of FOUR QUARTERS as a common 
ground for the creative, critical, or scholarly writer and the alert and reflective 
reader. They promise that each manuscript submitted will receive careful con- 
sideration, and, realizing that creative growth is dependent on sustained 
interest, they welcome the attention and comments of their subscribers. 



EDITOR— Austin J. App 

ASSOCIATE EDITOR— Brother E. Patrick, F.S.C. 
MANAGING EDITOR— Daniel J. Rodden 
BUSINESS MANAGER— Brother G. Robert. F.S.C. 

CIRCULATION MANAGER— Joseph A. Browne. Jr. 

EDITORIAL ASSOCIATES— Claude F. Koch. Chairman 
Brother E. Clementian. F.S.C. Howard L. Hannum 
Robert L. Dean Joseph F. Hosey 

Ugo Donini John F. McGlynn 

John A. Guischard E. Russell Naughton 



Manuscripts and other correspondence should be addressed to The Editor, FOUR 
QUARTERS, La Salle College, Philadelphia 41, Pa. Manuscripts should be typed double- 
spaced and should be accompanied by a stamped, self-addressed envelope. 



Con tributers 

WALTER KERR, for a number of years a member of tbe drama 
faculty of the CatKoIic University of America, wKere bis classes in play- 
writing and drama theory became well known, is presently guest drama 
critic of the l^ejv York Herald-Trihune, drama editor of Commonweal, 
and a contributing editor of Theatre Arts Monthly. As a playwright, he 
has frequently been represented on Broadw^ay, most recently by the success- 
ful musical revue Touch and Go, written in collaboration with his wife. 
Jean Kerr. Mr. Kerr is represented in this first issue of FOUR QUARTERS 
by the provocative article, "The Care and Prevention of Playwrights." 

LEO BI^ADY, whose verse appears in this issue, is at present Assistant 
Professor of Speech and Drama at the Cathohc University of America. 
A frequent contributor to poetry magazines, Mr. Brady is the author of a 
novel. The Edge of Doom, and of several plays, one of which. Count Me In, 
written in collaboration with Walter Kerr, w^as produced professionally. 

JOSEPH MINTZER, who contributed the typographic cover design 
for this and the year's subsequent issues of FOUR QUARTERS, is a 
member of the Art Directors of America, the Scarab Club of Detroit, 
former president of the Ecclesiastical Art Guild of Detroit, and has 
exhibited his paintings under the auspices of the Michigan Water Color 
Society. 

BROTHER ADELBERT is a former Assistant Professor of English 
at La Salle College. At present he is studying for his doctorate in 
Medieval Literature at the Catholic University of America. 

CLAUDE F. KOCH, JOHN F. McGLYNN, EDWARD GARRY, 
and DAN RODDEN are members of the faculty of La Salle College. 



The Care and Prevention 
of Playivrights 

By Walter Kerr 

THOSE or us wKo teacK playwriting sometimes wonder why one of 
our young student playwrigKts may spend tKree or four years with us 
in the universities without producing anything w^e can honestly consider 
stageworthy, and then go out into the wide, uncuhivated world and within 
a year turn out a mature and even commercial work. We were so well 
equipped to help him, we had all those courses, we gave him so much 
of our precious personal time, and we offered him an intellectual environ- 
ment in which a man should have been able to grow. The year after 
leaving us he spent mostly in bars and on beaches. To our chagrin, the 
bars and the beaches produced the work of art. 

Chagrined but unbowed, we are still determined to help him. and 
we try to entice him back to our own, and superior, environment. Lately 
the universities have been offering residences to young playwrights. Come 
back, we say. Come out of the potholes and into the light, and let us help 
you write better plays. The chances are about a thousand to one, if the 
playwright does come back, that he will again embarrass us by producing 
the unproduceable. And the longer he stays, the worse he will get. 

I am not suggesting that we cannot be of use to the beginning writer; 
we can, and we have been. But there are certain limitations to our use- 
fulness, and I think it is wise to face them. It is also necessary to make 
the playwright face them, so that he does not suffer at the hands of men 
honestly trying to help, and so that he does not paralyze himself with 
misapprehensions about his trade. 

The fundamental virtue of the university as an aid to playwrights 
is that it is a repository of historical and technical knowledge about the 
craft and that, as a result of years of study and synthesis, it can offer a 
quick resume of traditional structural principle. The neophyte had best 
be exposed to all this. It will save him time. 

The fundamental vice of the university as a home for playwrights is 
that it is an essentially rational environment, devoted to logic, theory, 
and the study of principle. The playwright's gift, like that of other artists, 
is not primarily rational, but intuitive. This means, roughly, that he has 
an instinctive capacity for sudden and direct contact with realityz—flashes 
of insight which are not the result of rational construction in a vacuum, but 
come from immediate intimacy with nature itself. NVhat he receives are 
concrete images, not abstractions or equations, and universities are 
notorious hotbeds of abstraction and equation. 

There is a certain estrangement, and perhaps even a clash, between 
the rational and intuitive methods of the intellect. F. S. C. Northrop 



4 Four Quarters 

empKasizes this in The Meeting of East and ^Vest wken he points out that 
the rationally arrived-at knowledge of the wave-IengtK for blue will do 
nothing at all to convey to a man born blind the actual experience of 
blueness. Now the playwright is concerned with blueness— for him, blue- 
ness means the living reality of an action— and all the abstract equations 
he learns for climax, crisis, direct and indirect characterization will not 
convey to him or to his audience this living reality. The danger he faces 
in a university, where the search for equations is after all the principal 
business, is that he will be drawn into the fascination of the formula. 
He may come to believe that the equation is the living reality or a perfectly 
good substitute for it. Writing hard, he will produce plays as lifeless as 
they are mathematically irreproachable. Or, sensing his own failure, he 
will turn into what he is now really equipped to be^-a critic. 

I suppose all of this sounds a little intangible and overwrought. But 
those of us who teach playwriting have had it happen repeatedly to us, 
or to our students, in one way or another. We may have told them, 
perhaps in a course in drama theory or history, that tragedy is our most 
profound dramatic form, and that all or virtually all of our great tragedies 
are in verse. What we said was demonstrably true. But it did not 
justify the rash of verse tragedies which broke out in playwriting class 
some short time later. Young writers are an ambitious and elevated lot. 
Give them a principle about tragedy or about anything else, and they 
are going to attack their work as though the principle came first. The 
chance that any one of these plays was inspired by an immediate and 
tragic intuition of life is, I think, rare. And unless we really do point out 
that a perfectly sound critical principle is no guide whatever to the 
personal talent of an individual man, we may condemn that man to five or 
six years of laboriously perfecting a form for which he has no perceptive 
capacity. 

Or there is my own experience of guiding a student through a series of 
exercises which were calculated to teach her a good deal about play 
structure. She seemed to learn the structure all right, but to be without 
any particular talent. One day when my back was turned, and my glaring 
formal eye not directed toward her, she forgot about the whole thing and 
wrote a play. It was so good I had to produce it immediately in the 
university theatre; it w^as later optioned for New York. She is still profuse 
about how^ much she learned from me. but I learned more from her. I 
learned that I could teach a lot of principle but that a genuine playwright 
is a terribly unprincipled person. 

Again, a young man comes to us seeking admission, w^ith a dozen 
assorted manuscripts under his arm. Here, obviously, is a very fertile 
fellow. At the end of a year with us, w^e find he has not even put pencil 
to paper. Is it possible that we have somehow paralyzed him? On several 
such occasions I have asked the student for an explanation and I have 
several times been answered as follows: "Oh, I couldn't possibly have 
wasted my time writing anything. Every lecture you gave taught me so 



The Care and Prevention of Playwrights 5 

mucn that I didn't want to be making mistakes on paper that might be 
prevented by the very next lecture." Students have been known to go 
on for years this way. I thought for awhile of remodehng my classroom 
to include ear-plugs and a bar. 

It is not just a matter of wasting time in the classroom, or even of 
paralyzing a given student for a few^ years thereafter. Carried to its full 
extension, the emphasis on theory and principle can destroy the output of 
an entire culture. Something hke this happened in Renaissance Italy. 
Clearly, there was a fine dramatic and theatrical instinct here, bursting 
to be heard. It made itself heard with tremendous vitality in the com- 
meaia dellarte. But the more talented and literate men who might have 
given Italy a literary comedy or even a tragic form were caught in the 
throes of classic theory. Slavishly they adhered to the rules of the academi- 
cians, and in the process went creatively sterile. Holding themselves 
superior to the commedia, with its formless and vulgar aping of the 
common life, they destroyed their intuitive gifts by their determined 
rationality. 

Obviously we have got to teach what we know about theory and 
mathematical technique. But we have got to teach it for what it is'—a kit 
of small tools, an assembly of shortcuts—and never pretend that it is the 
heart of the w^ork. The student should know that what he is learning will 
serve as a sort of handy reference guide, once he has absorbed and then 
forgotten it. Since no intuitively perceived image will ever come w^ith all 
its shoelaces perfectly tied, it is wise to know how^ to tie them up. But 
there should be no undue emphasis on the act of tying. It should be "a 
casual habit w^hich distracts not at all from the pursuit of the image 
proper. We must encourage the student to form such habits quickly and 
never again give them thought, so that his mind may be free to make 
contact with an unmanipulated reality. 

The trouble with his remaining in a university after the habits have 
been formed is that he continues to give thought to the processes. He 
thinks, talks, and theorizes process far into the night. Even if he is 
advanced to the point of recognizing the difference between process and 
perception, he thinks, talks, and theorizes about that. It is a world of 
theory, in which one first establishes the formula and then attempts to 
fill it. For the artist this is putting the cart before the horse and, like all 
horses caught in the situation, he is brought to a standstill. The case 
of John Lyly is much to the point: the University Wits, of which he was 
one, became wits when they left the universities for the life of London. 
Lyly, clinging to an intellectual environment and disdaining to compete 
with the bear-baiting pits, chained himself to an everlasting repetition of 
his first intellectual conceits. Better the bars and the beaches. 

Our job in the universities is to teach the traditional short-cuts and 
to turn them into half-forgotten habits. To make clear to the writer 
that they are not half so important as his own most casual glance. And 
to get rid of him as quickly as possible. 



Rest Camp 

By Qaude F. Koch 

REST CAMP is tKe winner of tKe first annual Catholic Press Association SHort Story 
Award. Tlie story, which appears for the first time in FOUR QUARTERS, was 
adjudged test by a board composed of editors of leading Cathofic pubhcations. 



\\r* KiPi 
VWf 

^ o 



KIPPER'S going asKore in 
an Kour, Rubber." 
Over by tKe rail the clumpy 
little figure started, turned!, and split 
unshaven cheeks in an indecisive 
smile. 

"That'll be great, eh. Commander, 
eh?" On his damp collar, cross and 
heutenant's bars were dull and awry. 
The heutenant commander nodded 
condescendingly and waved himself 
away, and the priest leaned his belly 
against the rail again, contemplating 
with dull-eyed fatigue the unloading 
operations in the Noumean dusk. 
His khaki clothes draped hmply over 
the framie that awkwardly slouched, 
bereft of the weight that earned him 
his nickname— a pale, grimy, fever- 
ridden httle man small on the trans- 
port's forward well-deck. 

That earned him his nickname. 
The Reverend Wilham Ball, Roman 
Cathohc chaplain to the 501st Con- 
struction Battahon, rubbed soft, 
padded fingers over his cracked hps. 
On the wharf below, behind which 
ghnted the dissembhng sun in its 
setting across the red tin roofs of the 
palm-sheltered town, pugnacious 
green trucks of a Marine convoy 
were already loading the advance 
party of the Sea Bee Battalion.— his 
battalion, his disdainful flock. . . . 
And later, the drinkin' padre, old 
Rubber Ball himself, hail fellow, the 
good guy among his peers would 
step down to the commander's jeep 



and another round of drinks at this 
damn rest camp wherever-it-was 
Saint Louis. 

But the Solomon Islands were be- 
hind. Father Ball looked down at 
his slight fingers clutching white the 
ship's rail and expelled his breath 
with a grating sigh. The quonset 
hut was behind, the screened mess 
("officers only"), the beer (out be- 
yond the screening in the Tulagi 
twilight bent and dejected figures of 
elderly men clanked messgear in the 
long lines^-some looked in and saw 
him, and saw the skipper, and the 
tables, and the icebox), and now the 
rest camp in this New Caledonian 
security. The advance party was 
loaded, angular figures of men joy- 
ous on the planked seats lining the 
sides of the six-bys^aughing, and 
boisterous joking. . . . Then one 
looked up at him and ceased his good 
humor, or so the priest thought. 

Father Ball turned away from the 
rail, and padded his awkward knock- 
kneed waddle toward his cabin in 
officers' country. 

It was dark as the jeep followed 
the main convoy through the town, 
but the priest in his seat behind the 
commander and beside his exec 
shivered at the piercing whiteness of 
headlights. Light for the first time 
at night for six months. Light that 
cut across the paving as the trucks 
mounted to the hills and thrust still 



Rest Camp 



glowing Kouses into relief. They 
were silent as tKe hushed witness 
of conventional hfe took shape in 
the headhghts, as the faint music of 
lavender or stranger scents hung in 
the coohng air. Like the httle towns 
in the late springs at home. Like, 
thought Father Ball, the road to my 
first curacy. The same lonehness 
and uncertainty and weakness that 
filled him then assailed him again, 
and he said: 

"Well, Skipper, civihzation at 
last, eh?" 

"Right-o, Padre. Here's where 
you fill out again. They say," the 
Commander turned around with a 
grin, "they say that the god-damned- 
est officers' club in the Pacific is 
right here at the Hotel du Paci- 
fique ..." 

"Lead me to it, " the exec yipped 
his shrill delight. 

Father Ball nodded absently. 

It was a strange returning, he 
thought. Six months baked in green, 
or scraping sodden cots in total 
blackness: every sound familiar, 
weighted and understood. Now^ to 
learn to hear again the isolated, half- 
recalled, and fearless sounds of a 
community; to see after green-blind- 
ness the wealth of a spectrum^ 
freed of the tyranny of green. Freed 
of all familiars, except the self, he 
thought. The little-fat-man-priest- 
in-his-spare-time. lover of Number 
One. An abrupt curve, arrowing the 
headlights out across angular nae- 
ouli trees, sliding along wire mesh 
fencing and plowing shadows across 
the tilled earth, threw him against 
the exec. 

"Hold it. Rubber! " The priest 



shrank at the nickname. He was 
silent. 

"But are the French lasses 
friendly? " Ball could not see his 
commanding officer's teeth^-but they 
would be unveiled fully in the dusk, 
caught in a moment by the clean 
light approaching upgrade. 

' Now^, here, here," he bantered, 
"remember your chaplain ..." A 
bark of laughter, and the little priest 
nodded his head with a weak smile 
in the darkness. It was so easy. 

But to begin again maybe here. 
Or fifteen minutes ago with the 
convoy ana the singing men blast- 
ing through the gate of the long, 
deserted wharf ^twisting the streets 
of the tojjun fragrant u^ith memories 
aching to bum away the months just 
past, swinging the twisted palms and 
the relaxed streets, and swinging the 
jeep like the tail of a long dog be- 
hind. To begin again with that be- 
ginning-^but pxst to find the moment 
of decision, and cast away the para- 
site of body that when and God 
knows how became the host and rode 
the spirit out to something infinitely 
small and lost. Or to begin now? 

"What the hell did you say. 
Padre?" 

"I said the men sound happy ..." 
Father Ball clenched his hands on 
his lap and closed his ears to a reply. 

And all the hushed ride through 
the Noumean night journeyed the 
priest further into the past/— beyond 
all memories, of his failure as a chap- 
lain, along the wide roads above the 
lights that emphasized the pall of 
valleys below, back to old illusions. 
But then they were at Camp Saint 
Louis, and while the Skipper tugged 
at a case of luke-warm beer and the 



Four Quarters 



priest watcKeJ Kim with desire and 
cKagrin. the Marine Captain wKo 
was Camp Commander bobbed into 
tKe tent and banded bim tbe notice 
for bis morning Masses at Camp 
Bailey. 

"And wbere is Camp Bailey, eb?" 
Ball sbpped tbe notice into bis sag- 
ging Icbaki sbirt and grabbed eagerly 
for tbe tin of beer. 

"Across tbe way, Cbaplain. And 
watcb yourself," tbe Marine Officer 
grinned in tbe candlehgbt, "it's a 
Raider camp and one of tbe outfits 
is beading Nortb soon; tbey need a 
Catbobc cbaplain ..." 

"Not for me; not for me." be 
bfted tbe can to bis bps witb a 
jerky movement and drank avidly, 
"I wouldn't go back tbere for tbe 
Pope bimself. " 

II. 

Tbe bell was a pattern in bis 
consciousness long before be awak- 
ened. Back and fortb, tbe notes 
caugbt pure bke vs^ater in a silver 
pool, stirring a dream witb ecboes 
of tbe seminary lawn created anew 
eacb morning for tbe cassocked boys, 
tbe ripples widening to drag witbin 
tbe dream tbe room wbere once be, 
a bttle boy, still sleeps and late for 
Mass. . . . But be awakened to tbe 
instant morning: outside tbe tent 
tbe paper-peeling bark of a naeouli, 
and tbe belling across tbe startled 
valley. Tbe priest buncbed to bis 
feet, clattering a beer can across tbe 
tent flooring. No movement in tbe 
tw^o remaining bunks. Tbe first 
nigbt's party bad done its work. 
His wristwatcb blurred to tbe bour, 
and be remembered bis Mass at tbe 
Raider camp. 



But wben be bad dressed and 
trimmed bis beard, and*— 'clearing tbe 
still sleeping camp^returned tbe dis- 
interested greeting of a sentry, tbe 
bell distracting from some memory 
down tbe valley drew bim, sbuffling 
and vulnerable, down a trail be- 
tween kauri. 

Tbere was a moment of hesita- 
tion at a wide dirt road, untravelled 
in tbe early morning; if tbere w^ere 
signs, be did not see tbem— -tbe bells 
clipped ecboes from bills be could 
not see beyond tbe thickened 
growths of palm and kauri and wry 
naeouli; and so be took tbe wrong 
trail, continuing on the road deeper 
into the trees dow^n tbe valley. 

Then tbey ceased their calling and 
be paused, suddenly breathless. Up 
and down the trail was tbe silent 
morning, and the light held in tbe 
moisture of fronds. Wben he moved 
again, bewildered, be heard bis foot- 
steps and was uneasy. Lifting bis 
feet carefully, be tugged at tbe cross 
on his collar and searched through 
the texture of fronds settled over- 
head for tbe sky^-seeking movement 
of clouds, of birds. 

And wben the bells pealed forth 
again^arring, it seemed, from tbe 
trees into which he had been star- 
ing, he bit his lip and quickened bis 
steps. 

The mission was there suddenly, 
unexpectedly at the turn of tbe trail: 
a whitewashed mass on a rise, its 
spire directing his eyes to tbe laven- 
der and green mountains against 
which it ordered its whiteness. Then 
be knew^ be bad been climbing, for, 
looking off to his left, along the 
fringe of woodland stretched out- 



Rest Camp 



buildings latticed like cloisters and 
irregular patches of farmland slop- 
ing to a blue marsb. 

III. 

Tbe two nuns were so still be bad 
not noticed tbem. Tbey were up 
to bis rigbt, by a tumbbng stone 
wall below tbe cburcb level, tbeir 
babits tbe dusty grey of stone. Tbey 
stood in repose, facing bim. 

He raised bis band and smiled, 
and one nodded ber bead so sligbtly 
be besitated to advance. Tbe stones, 
tumbled to tbeir feet, deepened tbeir 
silence to tbe silence of statues in 
tbe grottoes of tbe seminary wbere 
tbe bells tolled. Here now, tbe bells 
were silent, be realized. Tbe sky a 
settled blue tbat backed tbe spire; 
tbe spire and tbe mission cburcb 
arcbing beyond tbe stone wall; tbe 
grey wall tbat backed tbe grey nuns 
^-and only be stood alone and out 
of it. 

"Sister," be besitated again-— ad- 
dressing tbe nun wbo bad nodded 
to bim, "Sister, I'm a Catbolic priest, 
and I'm afraid I'm lost . . . ' 

He watcbed tbe nun incline to- 
ward ber companion, wbisper, and 
tben move witb robes dissolving into 
morning toward bim down tbe grade. 
Her companion remained still, bands 
folded before ber in ber long grey 
sleeves. 

Tbe nun confronting bim, ber eyes 
fixed witb respect on tbe ground at 
bis feet— be saw tbe bone structure 
sharpened beneatb tbe yellow skin 
and thought of the decaying year 
and a fragile leaf come to rest. 

"I speak English, Father," she 
said— and in ber voice he beard tbe 
disturbing calm of the bells, "this 



is tbe mission of Saint Louis. " 

"Tben I have taken tbe wrong 
road. Tbe Marine camp— the raider 
camp— Bailey— where is it. Sister?' 

Behind her tbe other nun took a 
faltering step forward. 

"I am sorry, I do not know. Father. 
I have just arrived myself." The 
grey robe fell back from her arm, 
and Father Ball looked quickly away 
from the limb, severed at the wrist. 
"Tbe Cure up there, be will tell 
you . . . 

The church again on the rise. He 
hesitated; to step beyond her was 
to enter the intolerable regularity of 
tbe circle of sky, mountain, church, 
and wall. 

"Father," ber voice was timid. 

"You have just come back?" 

««v " 
les. 

"The Solomon Islands? It was 
most difficult there, was it not? 

But to stay was to be involved in 
this. Down tbe fragile and delicately 
ordered fields, tilled in grey-green 
shimmering levels to the marsh, he 
saw himself walking, in his mind s 
eye, witb honor. Tbe degrading 
personal recollections of the islands 
were as unreal as the islands them- 
selves, here wbere tbe nun's calm 
voice was thunder stirring memories. 

"Yes, Sister, " who in this timeless 
place could contradict? "at times, it 
was very difficult." (Out in tbe 
Tulagi twilight, again and again tbe 
men averted their eyes from tbe 
priest in tbe screened enclosure^-- 
yes, dijficult.) 

With a quick, shy glance at her 
face in its wasted repose, be ges- 
tured farewell and entered tbe cita- 
del of wall and church and bill. She 
moved soundlessly aside and stepped 



lO 



Four Quarters 



to the wall, extending tKe ruined ann 
to her companion. 

The church smelled of springs of 
damp, and termites had eaten at 
carved statues in the indefinite sha- 
dow. Father Ball genuflected to- 
v^^ard the vague repository, and with- 
drew^. The nuns no longer stood by 
the stone wall, the valley and the 
marsh drew him, and as he followed 
the stone wall downward he felt 
relief from that disturbing solitude. 

If, he said. 7 say my Mass this 
morning, ana resolve^^hecause I've 
done no wrong: loneliness is not a 
sin, and if 1 was occasionally com- 
fortable, 1 needed it more than most 
men, who . . . His voice fell suddenly 
upon his own ears, and he halted 
and looked around at the fields 
M^here nobody moved. He was at 
the marsh, and as he searched up- 
wards again at the white spire, he 
saw the grey nuns, immobile, watch- 
ing him. 

"Anyhow^," he spolce softly across 
the mile of intervening hill to them, 
'with God's help I will not go back 
there, I'm lost if I go back there, and 
here I start again ..." 

As though they heard him, the 
grey forms pirouetted silently and 
drifted in their smallness toward the 
chapel, entered, and yielded deeper 
silence to him. 

IV. 

"Y'know, Skipper," he told the 
commanding officer that evening as 
they drove toward the Hotel du Paci- 
fique, "I never did find the Raider 
camp^wandered around for three 
hours on the edge of that marsh, 
finally got a hop back to camp^--and 
then, eh, discovered that Camp 



Bailey was right across the road from 
us. " 

"Padre, Padre— you just didn't 
want to go to the trouble of saying 
that Mass." 

Lanterns bobbed in the slight 
breeze sweeping in across He Nou 
and the harbour swaying its lighted 
shipping in the evening tide. Lan- 
terns in the iron-railed enclosure of 
the officers' club from which female 
voices cut across the heavy chatter 
and the roll of the slot machines . . . 
and female voices seized the senses 
beyond the odor of stale beer . . , 
and the SP's on patrol beside the 
gate and the morose enlisted drivers 
in the jeeps were unnoticed in the 
female voices that usurped the night 
beneath the lanterns . . . 

"God, women! " said the exec, and 
Father Ball trailed them into the 
portico beneath the lanterns. 

"And female voices," the skipper 
was saying, "are enough to make you 
forget your sacred office. Padre." 
At which Father Ball smiled mecha- 
nically and wedged his way to the 
bar. 

"Well, here we start all o—ver 
a— gain, hey? " And the exec's sing- 
song and loud releasing laughter 
rang to the exclusion of all else in 
the little priest's mind. His hand 
over the damp bar halted halfway 
to a glass and closed in an ineffectual 
fist. He bowed his head . . . and 
the grey forms pirouetted silently and 
drifted in their smallness toward . . . 

"Yo. Padre! " 

The lights burst in the shattering 
noise and the Skipper's teeth were 
white in the grin that promised ac- 
ceptance and enervated dissent. 



Rest Camp 



11 



"Are you just back from tKe is- 
lands, Chaplain?" 

TKe sKot was comfortably down, 
and he was warm and secure before 
he turned to reply. This was a type 
he had seen on the posters in 
Chaplain's School^— a pursed sensi- 
tive mouth, and a thin face poised 
w^ith considerate expectation. A lone 
silver bar was very straight, impec- 
cably balancing the cross. 

"Yes, Chaplain," he said. "I'm 
Father Ball, with the 501st Sea 
Bees." 

"You came in yesterday then. I'm 
Slade. Presbyterian chaplain at the 
Raider camp across from Saint 
Louis ..." 

"I got lost hunting your camp 
yesterday. " Ball waved two whis- 
key-straights from the corporal be- 
hind the bar. 

"I know," Slade laughed defer- 
entially. "Say, let's sit down and 
talk a while. I haven't been up yet, 
you know, and Id like to hear . . . 

The priest balanced his drink and 
led his youthful confrere through 
the thick smoke and the boisterous 
crowd, out past the slot machines to 
the lanterned patio and an empty 
table under the palms. 

"How did you know? " 

"What? Oh, that you were lost? 
I came over after you— I'm the only 
chaplain now at Bailey—and I 
wanted to be sure you got there for 
the Catholic men. I figured you 
took the wrong turning— to the Mis- 
sion, and the sisters put me straight." 

"The sisters? " 

"Yes, I must have come up just 
behind you. One is blind, you know 
—but the other said you had wan- 
dered down to the marsh, and that 



you were quiet and seemed ill. She 
was quite concerned. " 

"That was good of her, eh? But 
why should she think I was ill? " 

The young man shrugged in his 
narrow shoulders, and tilted his head 
sympathetically: "But you do look 
all in, you knov^'. It must have 
been pretty tough up there ..." 

Ball blinked at him and dropped 
his eyes quickly to his drink. The 
lanterns danced their wan light 
across his soft fingers cupping the 
glass; he moved his chunky arm into 
that more certain light. 

"They're wonderful, those nuns. " 
Slade's voice rose enthusiastically. 
"They were prisoners of the Japs on 
Bougainville, you know— evacuated 
by an American sub just a few weeks 
ago— and they want desperately to 
go back, even the blind one ..." 

The priest shrank within himself 
and was silent. 

"The one lost her arm up there- 
she spoke great admiration for you— 
you must have suffered, she said."' 
Slade reached over and touched 
Balls arm, "So I invited them over 
to your Masses.— every morning. To 
hear you preach on Sunday . . . 

"Every day! But they can"t do 
that!"' 

"Ah, but they can. Father. You 
see, they're just back here to rest too, 
and they have quite a lot of free- 
dom—like yourself." 

"But you say they want to go 
back," Father Ball ran his hand nerv- 
ously through his hair. "It'll be 
v/orse^-much w^orse for everyone, the 
second time. It is bad enough the 
first . . .A man— anyone— goes to 
pieces. Why, you can lose your 
soul ..." 



12 



Four Quarters 



SlaJe patted his hand again, "I 
know, I know, Fatner. The nun 
said it must have been terrible for 
you ..." 

"No, no^ don't mean . . . Oh 
but you don't understand ..." 

Over the chpped sound of glasses 
there was a scuffling at the gate, and 
when Ball turned back to Slade the 
man's eyes, soft and thoughtful, were 
fixed on him. 

"Why didn't you come with us. 
Father? You're right, I don't under- 
stand—but you, with your experience 
^-and we need a senior chaplain, and 
a Catholic ..." 

Ball struggled to his feet. "Not 
for the Pope himself," he said. "I 
need a drink." 

And before the shocked eyes of 
the younger man, he pushed his 
chair clumsily aside and waddled 
toward the bar. 

V. 

Though the bells w^ere a dis- 
cordant clang sphtting with a knife 
of ice a vast pocket of pain, he did 
not waken. The dream recurred end- 
lessly, and he watched himself grop- 
ing and hopeless to pull his figure 
away from before the blurred grey 
daubs behind which the fire flared. 
Separated from them by the Host 
quivering in his hand he saw their 
broken faces bow away in a blur, 
while mumbled to a trapped con- 
clusion in their humihty his Mass 
disintegrated to a bitter taste of the 
night in his mouth. 

See, rather, we come every day, 
at the chapel door that shifted and 
dissolved the nuns' faces had a ter- 
rible brightness of what lost inno- 
cence? Chaplain Slade is sending 



the jeep . . . 

The habit fell from her arm across 
the eyes of the falhng face. 

The bells silenced. He awakened. 

At first he could see nothing. 

Grotesque through the opened 
tent flap the waiting trees were still. 
A guide line flapped emptily its in- 
verted question, noose-like across the 
slit entrance. At the foot of his cot 
the bulk of his holster suggested cer- 
tainty. 

The bells dissected his thought. 

He sank back, horrified. 

VI. 

On the third day, when the pro- 
fanely startled exec jerked aside the 
tent flap with Ball's change-of-sta- 
tion orders in his hand, he found the 
priest on his knees beside his foot- 
locker, carefully stowing tins of beer 
on the tray. 

Under his bunk, T-shirts, dunga- 
rees, and shorts lay discarded. 

"By God, Rubber," he shook the 
papers at Ball. "These are to the 
Raider Regiment! Did you ask for 
this?" 

The chaplain nodded, and avoided 
his eyes. 

"Well, I'll be damned ..." 

"No," Father Ball said, "no, you 
won't. But I will." 

Hidden, down the valley the bells 
chimed Angelus, and a beer can 
clattered from the priest's fumbling 
hand. 

He stood with difficulty, and 
padded to the entrance to the tent, 
the indecisive mouth trembling, the 
little hands groping tow^ard the dull 
canvas that stretched without am- 
biguity in the sun. 



The Two Faces of Fiction 

By John F. McGlynn 

IN its gradual emergence as a finisKed literary type tKe novel has been 
chiefly nourished by two tendencies which, when fused together, have 
produced some of the finest works of the imagination, but which, when 
opposed or in separate dominion, have spawned at best the ephemeral 
best-seller or the sterile, studied, pampered desideratum of this or that cult 
of the avant garde. I am speaking of the tendencies towards naturahsm 
and towards "romance," using the latter term in the sense that Hawthorne 
apphes it to his own brand of fiction, with more "latitude both as to . . . 
fashion and . . . material" than the realistic novel would allow. The 
strange truth is that both tendencies apparently spring from the same 
desire, which is at once touchstone and method of the art of fiction. Henry 
James hit at the heart of the thing when he remarked: 

. . . the air of reality (solidity of specification) seems to me to be the supreme virtue 
of a novel— the merit on which all its other merits . . . helplessly and submissively 
depend. If it be not there, they are all as nothing, and if these be there, they owe 
their effect to the success with which the author has produced the illusion of life. 

And further in the same essay: 

Catching the very note and trick, the strange irregular rhytlun of life, that is the 
attempt whose strenuous force keeps Fiction upon her feet. 

To catch the strange irregular rhythm of life: how^ our naturalist, reading 
that, fastens on the word irregular! and how our romancer is impelled by 
the word strange! The naturalist will often aim at presenting a broad, 
sprawling, people-studded panorama in which the real protagonist is 
environment, in which the characters only respond, seldom questioning, 
and never opposing with any very positive strength. Steinbeck has one 
of his characters in The Grapes of Wraf?i say: "The hell with it! There 
ain't no sin and there ain't no virtue. There's just stuff people do. It's 
all part of the same thing. And some of the things folks do is nice, and 
some ain't so nice, but that's as far as any man got a right to say. " This 
philosophy of determinism seems to be fundamental in such disparate 
works as Nelson Algren's The Man W^if^i the Golden Arm and James 
Jones* From Here to Eternity. 

It does not require a very sharp eye to locate in the background of 
Algren's book the awkward shadow of Studs Lonigan, though Algren 
surely gains something over Farrell in his more elegiac mood. Still, it is 
the color and clamor and impersonal appetite of the Chicago slum setting 
of the novel, rather than the conflict of will and personal appetite of any 
of its inhabitants, that determines the action. The lives and dreams of 
Frankie Machine and Zosh and Sparrow and Captain Bednar impinge 
one on the other with the violent but meaningless importunity of billiard 
balls. They are all in effect derelicts, and, while the writer compels from 

15 



14 Four Quarters 

us a fine sympathy, he never makes their plight tragic, only pathetic. More 
objectively deterministic is From Here to Eternity, with its evocation of the 
pattern of military hfe, its basic contrast of enhsted men and officers. Like 
Algren's novel, but to a greater extent, it rehes on the raw power of shock 
treatment and I suppose no valuable criticism of it will come until the 
shock wears off. 

The romancer differs from the naturahst in that he tries to capture the 
overtones of hfe. His field of operations is often small, but he probes more 
deeply, trying to communicate hfe's rhythm in the subtle interplay of man's 
inner hfe and external environment. Graham Greene's The Heart of the 
Matter is this kind of novel, its action always radiating out from, always 
returning to, Scobie's conflict. It is a tragic action in that, invested with a 
kind of cosmic pity and ignorant of the final saving grace of Grace itself, 
Scobie must will self-destruction. He is too strong to be pathetic, as 
Frankie Machine is pathetic, trapped in circumstance. 

Naturahsm has been the dominant tendency in the fiction of the 
present century, even up to the moment, as the reclame attendant on 
Prom Here to Eternity makes evident. Certainly among the causes of this 
dominance is the impregnation in all sectors of experience of the method 
and imphcations of scientific psychology. The Freudian's attack on the 
inviolabihty of personahty is reflected in the novehst's distrust of human 
dignity and his reluctance to motivate behaviour in any but the most 
elementary way. Furthermore, the naturahstic writer tends to repeat the 
therapeutic technique of the psychiatrist, wherein the patient is encouraged 
to bring willy-nilly to the surface of his mind any and all ideas as they 
appear. Still further, the naturahstic novehst echoes the Freudian accent 
on sex as the final, infallible skeleton key to behaviour. Granted, sexual 
promiscuity is a sign of vitality and hence a means of limning character 
outline; but it is a sign of undirected or uncontrolled vitality, and possibly 
vitiates more than it reinforces. 

And yet, despite the success of Jones and Algren and John Hersey 
(of The V^all, not Hiroshima) and Norman Mailer, there seems to be a 
powerful movement today away from naturalism, away from the determinism 
of morality and personality in which it is grounded. Philip Rahv. in a 
remarkably lucid and persuasive essay, characterizes the present debility 
of naturalism: 

WKat was once a means of treating material trutKfulIy nas been turnea, Inrougn a 
long process of depreciation, into a mere convention of truthfulness, aevoid of any 
significant or even clearly definable literary purpose or design. The spirit of discovery 
fias withdrawn from naturahsm; it has now become the common denominator of 
reahsm, available in like measure to the producers of literature and to the producers 
of kitsch. 

In a somewhat different spirit. Miss Caroline Gordon finds Hemingway's 
compass restricted to "a narrow range of experience " which "in our crisis- 
ridden world is inadequate. We can hardly believe any longer in the 



The Two Faces of Fiction 13 

Divinity of Man. ^Ve are more concerned today with man s relation to 

God." 

To look into Hemingway's latest novel. Across the River and into the 
Trees is to look at the empty husk of a once fine, vigorous talent. The 
disillusionment and toughness are here completely synthetic. Reality has 
given way to stereotype. People respond to stimuli—and almost exclu- 
sively conversational stimuli at that—in a way out of all proportion to the 
causes. The colonel swings from gentleness to harshness with the fluidity 
and lack of resistance of a stream curving past rocks. The author's purpose 
is presumably to communicate purposelessness, to voice the utter meaning- 
lessness of human values in our society; the effect is only to divert the 
characters themselves into meaninglessness. This is kitsch, if that word 
puzzled you'-^kitsch, naked and, alas, unashamed. 

Perhaps the most singular evidence of the swing away from naturalism 
in our fiction is the wealth of symbolism in many contemporary novels. 
In one sense naturalism may be defined by its desire to make language one- 
dimensional. It proceeds on the basis that the rhythm of life is best recap- 
tured by an attention not to symbols, but to details. Its sacred trinity 
of procedure goes this w^ay: a) specificity of detail; b) concentration of 
detail; c) density of detail. Its practitioner uses symbols as much as 
possible only as the scientist uses them, as static controls for his ideas. 
They are nothing more than the most available means of referring to some- 
thing else and are thus distinguished from the romancer's use of them as 
the very quickening impulse of his art, wherein they take on what one critic 
calls "a constantly expanding and reverberating meaning.' 

The hero of From Here to Eternity happens to be a supreme bugler. 
However, his mastery of this instrument seems to have in the story only 
the function of accentuating the central irony, the wasteful, unnecessary 
death of the good soldier, sacrificed to the injustice of the army caste 
system. One can, of course, impose other meanings; for example, the 
contrast of Prewitt's skill with the bugle and with his fists can be made 
to symbolize the contrast of beauty and brutality in the world, with the 
latter ironically most in demand. But such interpretations seem to be 
accidents of form and not basic to the writer's intention. Frankie Machine 
of Algren's prize-winning novel is, like Prewitt, a virtuoso. He is a dealer 
in a gambling house, a man with a golden arm, and his skill has in general 
the same relationship to the narrative pattern as Prewitt's. It is true he is 
a more rootless character than Prewitt, so that his end, a miserably bungled 
suicide, has more pity than irony attached to it. Not with a bang does he 
go out but with "one brief strangled whimpering. " 

However, to turn to a novel v^ritten in the other tradition is some- 
times to enter a whole world of complicated, interworking symbols. A 
singular case in point is James Agee's The Morning Watch, a very brief 
novel published early in 1951. The story concerns the efforts of a boy 
of twelve to participate in the spirit of Good Friday. Fundamentally it 



i6 Four Quarters 

is a story of tKe distractions wKich beset Kim, culminating in Kis sneaking 
off with several companions to a swimming hole in tKe woods nearby. 
Symbolically, I found it a story contrasting tbe emotional effects of a 
sterile, dead dramatic sKow^, Christ's Passion and Crucifixion and Resur- 
rectionr-witb its abstract and undefined cruelties and mysteries, and tbe 
effects of Nature's immediate drama of life and deaths— with its cruelties 
and mysteries intensely physical, intensely alive, intensely personal to the 
boy. The symbols are unavoidable and stark. Thus, in his walk through 
the woods Richard encounters the intact shell of a locust. The boy is 
much more rapt here than earlier, praying in the chapel towards "a dry 
chalice, an empty grail." 

TTial whole split back. Bet it doesn't Kurt any worse tKan ikat to be crucified. 

He crossecl himself. 

He sure did hold on hard. 

He tried to imagine gripping hard enough that he broke his back wide open and 
piJIed himself out of each leg and arm and finger and toe so cleanly and completely 
that the exact shape would be left intact. 

Later, after his stolen plunge in the forest pool^which itself is part 
of the complicated symbolismr-'he and his companions come across a snake 
which has just emerged from its last year's skin. 

In every wheaten scale and in all his barbaric patterning he was new and clear as 
gems, so gallant and sporting against the dun, he dazzled, and seeing him, Richard 
was acutely aware how sensitive, proud and tired he must be in his whole body, for it 
was clear that he had just struggled out of his old skin and was with his first return 
of strength, venturing his new one. 

The association that this image has w^ith the events commemorated and 
renewed on this spiritual day of days is expanded by all that follows: 
by the pride that drives Richard to smash in the snake's head despite his 
adoration and fascination and fear of it, by his realization that the snake 
will die slowly, will linger in fact till sunset, by Hobe's tossing the serpent 
among the hogs which "with snarling squeals, scuffled over the snake, 
tore it apart at its middle wound and, w^hile the two portions tingled in the 
muck, gobbled them down." 

Unmistakable in this novel, and, indeed, in a whole sector of con- 
temporary fiction (look to novels like Frederick Buechner's A Long Day's 
Dying and Alfred Hayes' The Girl on the Yia Flaminia), is a lyricism 
which, it appears to me, is more proper to poetry than to fiction. These 
writers attempt to extend unduly the modern fictional devices of the 
interior monologue, the flashback, etc. Such devices, handled with care, 
serve wonderfully to concentrate the action of the story, but if they do not 
concentrate it in the characters and in such a way that the characters move 
more substantially in their own material, time-locked, space-locked back- 
ground, then the demands of some other art than fiction are being served. 
Sometimes in Agee's story there is the effect that the boy loses his separate 
identity, which gives weight to the objection of some critics that these are 



The Two Faces of Fiction 17 

not the sensibilities or a boy of twelve^-an objection wbicb on tbe surface 
might appear to be mere carping. 

The poet at the level of apprehension is not much concerned with "the 
rhythm of ufe"; his concern is his intuitions about life. He imposes his 
own rhythm, a formular one. the rhythm of his medium, poetry. His is 
even a suspensive art to the degree that he progresses by splitting apart 
the emotion from the experience in which it is contained. He tends to 
abstract where the novelist tends to only sympathize. The novelist can 
ill afford poetic abstraction and still preserve that correspondence betw^een 
his creation and the pattern of life as we know it, that "solidity of specifica- 
tion" which Henry James called the inspiration, despair, reward, torment, 
and delight of the novelist. He can ill afford to let symbols become their 
own excuse for being in his composition. This would be extreme romancing, 
as destructive in its way as the extremes of naturalism in theirs. 

The conclusion appears to me unavoidable that the writer who carries 
his symbolism too far creates at most lifeless parable; equally unavoidable, 
that the writer who concerns himself solely with swaths of fact creates only 
case histories. There is a middle channel down which the finest novels 
sail: such recent works as The Gallery, 1984, The Heart of the Matter, The 
Track of the Cat, and The Brave Bulls. To appreciate them is to appre- 
ciate a truth on which they depend, that the romancer, if his work would 
have richness, must focus his vision in a clear-eyed perception of the 
solid specifications of reality, that the naturalist, to be likewise successful, 
must grant his land-locked gaze the mariner's freedom, who steers by both 
reef and star. 

Hrief Candie 

By Claude F. Koch 

The children dance from school: behold, their sun 

Has crossed its nadir and their clock is stopped 

At joy. Their spring unwinds its hours. 

But no time from out each gay face lours. 

Their year is always noon, and no alarum 

Dropped from all the calculating world's bell towers 

Dare second harm upon these sons of ours; 

No tick shall irritate the minute heart. 

And daylight saving is the standard watch 

Apart from us they keep. Oh, we make much 

Of sun and time, behold these sons eclipsing everyone 

In brightness like the sun. 

And, unlike time, in fun. 



Tivo Poems 



Like Olive Plants 

Lilce olive plants, tKe Psalmist says my children are: 

Banked round about the table in a ring. 

And I in whose untropical asphalt no such green things grow 

Am puzzled. I think of them as roaring hons seeking to devour. 

They share, I guess, some quahties with trees: they're strong. 

They willow with the wind, they sob in springs- 

Perhaps for different reasons^- 

(I have never had a tree come running to me desolate). 

They're thick of skin, impervious to rain. 

They sink their feet delightfully in mud and seem to thrive 

And only God can know how far their subtle roots stretch underground. 

But I cannot see in them the comehness of trees: 

The sweet leanover, leaf-dripping lovehness, the sanguine shade; 

I see the stalk only, bitter with growth. 

And am harassed by husbandry. 

The Psalmist has, however, bigger eyes 

And visions harvest and transfiguration: 

Blossom and flower and fruit'-- 

Fruit of the womb bearing fruit of its own in time 

And going gathered and resplendent to the market. 



18 



By Leo Brady 



Donne^s Distraction Is Not Mine 

JoKn Donne complained a fly glanced tKrougK Kis prayers 

Diverting him from God. I envy Donne. 

Donne the divine upon his wooden knees 

Beside the altar on an inert summer day 

Tracing the burr and drone a fly makes 

Like a feather in the ear, while huger hosts 

With wings wait in the dome for messages 

And tap, perhaps, angelic feet. 

For Donne, at least. 
There was a spell that could be broken: 
Impertinent and agile fly could interrupt 
Some supplication, never mind how tenuous. 
God was served among the interstices 
Of the web of flight this buzzer drew 
So noisily on sanctuary air. My plight is poorer. 
The contemplation of a fly is nearer than I get 
To a consideration of the heavenly design. 

Include me in your orbit, fly predestinate. 
That I may watch God's will unfold 
In your minute transparent wings, and see 
You grease your fragile body nervously 
Exactly in accordance with His plan. 
Groan in the capacious vaults of my pretense 
One small thin sound as here upon my knees 
I contemplate distraction emptily. 



19 



The Sign 

By Edward Garry 



ROCKBOUND and cold, its 
great length commanding tlie 
smooth, traveled terrain up 
and down and crosswise for many 
yards, the iron cyclops stretched in 
the cheerful hght and w^elcomed 
warmth of the middle time. When 
the giant creature winked its emerald 
eye, as it did at minute intervals, the 
impatient throng of smaller creatures 
surged ahead and over, showing no 
fear despite the nearness of numer- 
ous crouching, wide-faced monsters 
eagerly threatening their safety. For 
the stern cyclops also controlled the 
dash and drag of the monstrous 
things and encouraged the smaller 
beings to pooh-pooh and scorn their 
menacing speed and power. 

Out of the motley reaching the 
other side, one individual in black 
garments separated himself from his 
fellows and preferred to linger on the 
brink, a yard above and away from 
the dark, wide speedbed. He stood 
watching something, another indi- 
vidual like himself, a man also cos- 
tumed in black clothes topped by an 
endless white band around his neck, 
a taller and heavier and stranger 
man. The clothes of the smaller 
man were not unlike those of his 
tall counterpart, except for the collar, 
which in his case was a band of 
white like the usual neckpiece and 
not turned around, and his cravat 
was a flat piece of black silk that 
covered the total front of his shirt. 
At a short remove from the side 



of the brink, the taller of the two 
men stood in a small indentation 
away from the swirling mass of busy 
bodies and the smell and touch of 
the monsters. In this shelter he 
leaned easily against an upright post, 
his head inclined, looking like a 
philosopher musing on life and its 
affairs, or a serious student reflecting 
on his own problems, unaware that 
the smaller man watched him. 

The smaller man kept watching 
the tall man, his face intent, the 
corners of his mouth twitching, his 
right hand going up occasionally to 
the back of his head and neck, won- 
dering and amazed at what he saw. 

From the topmost button of his 
form-fitting double-breasted over- 
coat, a garment of extraordinary 
length having a black velvet collar 
and a triangle of white linen barely 
visible above the top pocket, the tall 
man let hang an arresting placard 
three feet square. The sign carried 
on its surface a series of incredible 
markings evidently made by a stout 
brush that had been dipped in scar- 
let red and coal black paints. The 
man's left hand held the edge of the 
lingular sign, making sure it 
wouldn't turn over when sudden 
gusts of wind now and then blew^ 
along the man-made canyon. The 
smaller man let the words on the 
sign fall sharply and deliberately 
upon his mental stencil. The sign 
read: 



ao 



The Sign 



ai 



Read Your Bible J 


Hear Me 


Bertie Bible 


Richard Waller 


Sunday ll P.M. 


Station WABS 


Read Your Biblel 



Vibrating lilce an alerted ancbored 
organism, tbe smaller man reacbed 
into tbe side of bis black burberry 
and took out a small book, into 
wbicb be made scratches witb a tbin 
instrument beld in bis fist. He 
caused tbe metal tbing to glide 
rapidly over tbe surface of tbe paper 
getting down tbe wording of tbe 
fascinating sign, as tbougb be was 
obbged to copy every word in a very 
sbort time. Periodically be would 
besitate before making a new mark, 
as tbougb be w^ere debating witb 
bimself on some crucial detail, and 
tben wTite more furiously tban be- 
fore. During tbe entire time of writ- 
ing, be managed a grin on bis face. 

Before tbe smaller man bad com- 
pleted bis writing, be saw witb some 
alarm tbat tbe tall man was coming 
towards bim, burrying as tbougb im- 
pelled by an invisible force. It w^as 
too late for tbe small man to turn 
and go, for tbe tall man bad tbe 
jump on bim. So be stood wbere 
be was and waited, boping tbat tbeir 
meeting would be brief, and tbat 
baving said something, tbe tall man 
would pass on. 

Tbe carefree day was too lazy 
witb spring for anyone to enter into 
controversy. Tbe fresb, beavy frag- 
rance of byacintbs and carnations 
and roses and jonquils bung in tbe 



air from tbe open-door florist sbop, 
and tbe seductive odor could disarm 
tbe most redoubtable Spartan war- 
rior. So tbe smaller man waited, 
wondering, boping for no conflict, 
bis bead bent and band still, bis 
body sbaky. 

He was conscious of tbe large 
sboes before be saw tbe face of tbe 
tall man in tbe long overcoat, and 
tbey came up to bim as black, shape- 
less congress gaiters, witb knobs in 
tbe leather tbat indicated bunions 
and crooked toes. Tbe feet were 
those of an old man or one who bad 
walked thousands of miles. But the 
small man bad no time to reflect 
upon what the shapeless shoes might 
mean, because a ministerial, disturb- 
ing voice stabbed bis ear. 

"Friend," tbe voice said in exag- 
gerated tones, "did you read your 
Bible this morning?" 

The small man froze; be couldn't 
speak; be couldn't move a finger. 
He could only look at tbe derby and 
its jaunty angle, and at the swarthy 
skin of tbe lugubrious face, and at 
tbe two cold, distant pools of dark- 
ness set high in the long swarthy 
expanse. He could discern very 
clearly tbe magnified bristles tbat 
shot out from tbe man's jowls and 
chin and upper lip, as though be 
were viewing tbe saturnine face 
through the grotesquerie of a mag- 
nifying glass. But the distorted face 
turned from bim and tbe voice came 
forth again from some place in the 
man's interior, a stronger sounding- 
board now, more evangelical, more 
sepulchral in tone, and as be spoke 
be held onto bis sign so tbat all who 
approached rnight read and all who 
bad ears might bear. 



22 



Four Quarters 



"Folks, did you read your Bible 
tnis morning? Everyone, even min- 
isters of the Gospel, must read tKeir 
Bible every day; it's tbe only way 
to worship God. " 

The small man came out of his 
seizure and turned to hurry away. 
He had witnessed sufficient strange- 
ness for one day, even a spring day 
in the greatest city in the world, and 
he had enough to think about for 
his next story. His thoughts there- 
fore told him to ffee, to run before 
ithe torrent, the flood, the in- 
scrutable powerful thing that weak- 
ened his insides and sent a metallic 
taste high up to his mouth. In the 
region behind his navel a noisy 
contraction had his entrails, and the 
bones in his legs momentarily turned 
to chalk. But before he could take 
his second step, his stride was 
matched by the step of the tall man, 
who kept shouldering him and 
throwing his weight and crowding 
him as they both stepped along the 
fancy avenue, moving southward to- 
wards the great white library that 
has the two well-known stone lions. 

The small man kept his look fixed 
straight ahead, not looking fully 
right or left, ignoring his partner-in- 
stride, hoping to elude him and fear- 
ful that he would never succeed. To 
forget the demon tearing at his vitals, 
he focused his attention on the 
passersby. He forced his face to 
take on a steady wisp of a smile and 
made his mind hook onto the faces 
as they came towards him. But his 
hook slid on the smooth faces, never 
able to hold onto any crevice of 
recognition. The well-fed faces of 
men in business grays and blues and 
tans were not for his memory's 



touch; the easy, gentle, slightly var- 
nished magnets with the bright veily 
bonnets registered nothing but aloof- 
ness. Cool and distant and beauti- 
ful they were, like the gem in the 
Ethiop's ear. But not for him. 

He was alone, a solitary traveler 
on much traversed land, with an 
enigma nudging him whose absurd 
sign advertised the carrier's audacity 
and the small man's unease. 

"Are you game? " 

That voice again! The disturb- 
ance went into his head and shot 
down into his lovv^er region, and for 
a moment he double-stepped and lost 
his stride. 

"Will you listen to me on Sun- 
day night? " 

Now the bass tones jabbed his 
brains, turning them over, although 
he managed to regain his stride. His 
brains said that there d never be an- 
other Sunday night. From Friday 
to Sunday is an age, a light-year. 

"Are you game? I said." 

The strident tones were jarring 
around in his stabbed head, his 
punctured interior, his echoing soul. 
They were making game of him. 
He thought he might be saying the 
crazy words himself. 

"Will you listen?" 

He must take hold of this madness 
and form words that will make sense 
and bring him peace. He would put 
those strong w^ords in line, marshal- 
ing them one after the other and 
make them fight his battle. But his 
mouth refused to open, his sound 
box was paralyzed, he did not speak. 
He could blame it on the small par- 
ticle of gum between his front teeth, 
that small thing acting like cement, 
keeping his teeth together. Words 



The Sign 



35 



now would startle nimself. 

If he could just blurt out any- 
tKing. A "Shut up!" A wild "Go 
to hell!" Anything would free him 
from the sign, the interior sign and 
the exterior sign. But no ejaculation 
came out. No sound came forth. 

It might be just as well, for the 
sign would stop and the voice would 
sound, and the enigma would ex- 
ploit the hesitation on his part. He 
didn't want to hear that voice again, 
that disturbing sound and the rhe- 
torical question. He didn't want to 
see that sign flaunted again, that 
obscene display, that pitchman and 
barker technique. 

In his mind's eye he could see the 
boisterous thing. Paint from it 
blinded him, the red stung his in- 
terior eyeballs, the blacic muddied his 
thinking. He moved his eyes to the 
right without moving his head and 
placed his thoughts on the fragile 
softnesses in the window^, the deli- 
cate pinks and m^auves and orchids 
and salmons, making his mind jump 
the occasional blacks. The sheer, 
diaphanous things with the fine 
workmanship at the heels, the net- 
ting for loveliness and mystery, the 
things that give unforgettable form 
and shape, the beige and tan and 
flesh. 

These vi^ere harbingers of a real 
world that made sense and could be 
understood, a world that might help 
a solitary forget his flight from a 
miad pursuer. There could be peace 
and serenity and ease and no fear 
in such a world. It was a world of 
consolation and music and softness 
and shy voices. 

And in the other windows his 
turned eyes could see the comple- 



ment to that in the other windows, 
these brighter, dazzling, stronger 
windows, where gems and circles 
and bands and strings and v-shaped 
lines gave back in a thousand dif- 
ferent, despairing ways the gold and 
white and blue of the sky and sun. 
This world also could make sense, 
and those who frequented it; and he 
met in his mind furtive inhabitants 
dwelling in the small segment he 
had known. 

Only strangers faced him, distant 
faces passed him by as though he 
did not exist, complacent faces 
looked through him and he never 
felt so desperate. He had a hundred 
acquaintances in this Bagdad, this 
city of homes on cliffs, but the dwell- 
ers were oblivious of him. 

He thought he was free of his 
stalker. 

"What are you?' 

That voice hit against his head. 
That piercing blow again. 

"Jesus?' 

He knew he had to escape this 
darkling occult thing, even if the 
ground beneath his feet w^ere to 
open. He had to flee. His liaison 
with a barker, a mountebank, a fly- 
by-night revolted him. He was in 
cahoots with fraud and the banal. 
He was a confederate to a pitch- 
man. It must not be. 

The big blueness struck his eye 
and cleared his head. He couldn t 
have wished for a better beachhead 
to get out of his sea of unease, this 
sea with its treacherous quicksands 
and whirlpools. The brightness of 
the shield and the buttons and the 
face. The blue of the eyes. 

"I wonder if you could help me, 
officer?" Hold it there, the voice 



24 



Four Quarters 



for tlie first time, Kold it even and 
steady and low and cool, now tliat 
you're out of tlie w^aves. Ignore tKe 
off-center, off-sound cadences. At 
ease, you're on the beacK. 

"Sure, Father, wnat is it? ' 

Cool again now, light now again, 
anything now^, anything at all, it 
doesn't have to be real, to make 
sense, to be exact, to be your need, 
as long as you're cool. 

"Where can I get a train for 
Brooklyn?" That's it, now. 

"Why, anywhere along here. " 
The blue sheen of the arm went up 
and to its right and came around and 
back and rested at the side. 

As if you didn't know that, as if 
you were a real stranger, as though 
you were from the hinterlands; and 
the taller man sees and hears and 
stands and holds his tongue and his 
sign and you know he's making that 
bold front to impress, to keep you 
under his eye. You must get him 
now. To speak then, hghtly too, 
with dignity. It's no time to lose. 

Look at the blueness. "Can you 
step in here a minute? " 

"Sure, Father." 

A step, and his step. 

"Is he annoying you?" 

A nod of the head. The first flush 
of retaliation followed by a surge 
demanding vindication, the passion- 
ate exhaust, and the return of 
strength. No. Stifle the low thing! 

"He's a jerk. I'll fix him. " 

Steady now in leaving, no run- 
ning, throw off the shackles and 
take a step and you'll be in a world 
you understand. To the right then. 
A glancing blow from a fusillade of 
words, a staggering, a stop. The 
stridency again. 



"Folks, did you read your Bible 
this morning? Everyone, even 
policemen, must read their Bible 
every day. " 

A flash of blueness to the left. 
A sound as decisive as a gunshot. 

"Hey, you!" 

The sign and the blackness and 
the derby and the sw^arthiness came 
round. Another conflict. Small 
blueness against tall blackness. Bet- 
ter than small blackness against tall 
blackness. Much better. 

He w^as free to move leisurely 
away, free to ease up. free to look 
from left to right. He could move 
across the narrow numbered street 
and then turn to watch. His insides 
taut still, and the taste not yet lifted 
from his teeth. The moisture on 
his broad forehead and upper lip 
and below^ the armpits cooling now 
under the aegis of the breeze along 
the avenue. The soft faces and their 
red and blue and dark halos. On 
some the varnish had cracked and 
the teeth show, regular, white, 
strong. The sheen from long hair to 
shoulders. The smell of pipe smoke 
and Chanel and all-spice and Eng- 
lish lavender and the gray of tweed 
and the salt-and-pepper and the 
gabardine skirts and coats in pastel 
shades. People passed and repassed 
and stopped before crossing. All his 
fellows. 

From his stand he could see the 
raised finger from the blue sleeve 
and it went up and down in deliber- 
ate rhythm. He saw the jaunty 
derby leaning over, the sign swing- 
ing now, a plaything of the breeze, 
dismay on swarthiness. No words 
came to him; the loose lips did not 
move, the chin was not working. It 



The Sign 



as 



loolced lilce tKe end of tKe drama and 
so he turned to walk towards the 
hons. 

On the Forty-second Street side 
of the large edifice, the steps to the 
entrance were busy up and down 
and he took his time in chmhing 
them, saving what vigor he had. No 
cause to hurry now, he knew, no 
reason to move fast, no need for 
speed. 

At the top of the first flight of 
steps he stopped and put out his 
foot to look at his shoes and found 
that the laces v/ere loose and one 
completely untied. He wondered 
how that came about. Now, with 
congress gaiters there were no laces 
to come untied. 

He went down to the shoes in a 
slight bend that gave a dirk of pain 
and made him quickly straighten 
up. His side was acting up. He 
bent once more, this time slowly 
and easily, on guard for the slightest 
sign of stiffness and pain. He tied 
each shoelace slowly, deliberately, 
his fingers more clumsy than he had 
ever noticed before. His whole body 
felt as though it had been melted 
and poured into his clothes. The 
back of his undershirt adhered to 
his skin. 

Now he could stand fully erect 
and move up the remaining flight 
to the dark door and push it open. 
He had to dodge the young men with 
uncombed hair and short coats and 
armsful of books. He looked at their 
young, eager faces, their careless ap- 
pearance. Someone was at his side, 
the corner of his eye told him by 
the blackness. The voice came forth 
controlled, demanding. "Brother, 
I d nke a word with you." 



He turned his head and directly 
beheld the man, tall and devoid of 
the hanging placard. He didn't say 
a word to answer him. 

I know you'll give it to me. " 

The tall man was sure of himself, 
ahhough subdued in tone. His sign 
was now rolled up and he held it 
in his long hairy hand, its shape now 
different but its inherent force still 
a sort of weapon. 

The small man looked away from 
the furled thing, unpleasant symbol, 
and from the tall blackness, and he 
stared across the busy thoroughfare 
to the far sidewalk, where the sun 
fondled the gay shapes and the 
virile forms, escorting them along 
the bright pathway where they 
moved with easy cadence and care- 
free step. 

He could see the displays in the 
windows of the mammoth stores that 
lined the street, the busy rialto, and 
the suits and shirts and hats and 
dresses and shoes placed in the exact 
position to catch the shopper's eye. 
He let his eyes close a little and 
found the yellows and reds and blues 
and the stripes and the whiteness 
took on rococo shapes and lines. The 
whole panorama was a medley of 
forms, a wild array of color and dark 
stabs. 

He looked back again to the 
ground at his feet, at the uncleaned 
steps and the dizzy pattern from the 
stamped-on cigarettes and paper 
and tinfoil and the tiny pools of 
spittle. 

Without saying a word, the small 
man led the way to the low stone 
bench that was on the right as one 
entered the building. Down here, 
a flight below the busy entrance 



a6 



Four Quarters 



they would be out of the library 
traffic. The smell of the black earth 
came up and over to them, damp and 
pungent and redolent of leaves long 
dead and their wetness. Here the 
morning sun only could touch the 
ground, but its fugitive glance never 
had a chance to sweeten the soil. 

Boxwood slowly put forth its shy 
greenness. It could never hope to 
match the eagerness of the trees and 
bushes and the blossomy things that 
thrived in the brightness of the 
famous avenue. The air was damp 
and quiet, and the presence of the 
two in black gave a grimness to the 
setting. 

Their silence was a plodding 
thing, full of the heaviness of mys- 
tery and ignorance. In another mid- 
dle time and another middle age 
two similar figures in brown or white 
or black gowns might have met on 
stone bench before a temple dedi- 
cated to similar pursuits, but they 
would have a common ground for 
understanding and discussion. The 
small man found himself brought up 
short. 

"Why'd you do it?" 

He felt the prick in his cuticle, but 
he kept his eyes averted so that he 
would not see the face of the tall 
man, preferring to watch the life in 
the sun across the chasm, desiring to 
join the march of shapely limbs and 
well-shod men, never tiring of look- 
ing at the swirling coats and dresses, 
the speeding business, the walking 
city. He gave no thought to answer- 
ing the question. It could answer 
itself. 

"You played a trick on a col- 
league." He resented the authori- 
tarian tone, pontifical even in its 



rich quality; he would not answer. 
He could not get his mind to work 
and form words. Effrontery iced 
his mental faculties, the tall man's 
effrontery. 

"We're in the same business and 
should be one." The small man 
wasn't certain what w^as meant by 
the word business. The same busi- 
ness? He hoped not, he could see 
the connotations of the word, the 
sordidness of extracting money from 
people under some sort of compul- 
sion. He could hear rattling of coins 
and the counting of change. Allied 
words marched through his mind, 
words that spoke of the street and 
the plaza and the great spectaculum, 
the gate, and the take, and the cut, 
and the slice. He could put this 
tall man on the right track. 

But what would emerge? An 
inane discussion on religion? Talk 
of making a livelihood? He could 
see the men at the newsstand crying 
their newspapers, and the speedy 
trucks rolling along that carried the 
heavy bundles to throw them out at 
corners. Li 1 Abner and Dick Tracy 
and Baseball Sports in The Daily 
Record. 

He could counter with "Are we? 
Or putting the counter-attack an- 
other way, "What makes you so 
sure? " And about being one, he 
thought that business wasn't the 
best integrator; neither is roguery, 
though both are said to make people 
thick. But he could only think, he 
couldn't talk. 

"Don't you ever talk, friend? ' 

He looked at the mouth from 
where the words came, the wide 
mouth, handsome and cruel and 
forceful. The mouth of a showman. 



The Sign 



37 



He looked away from tKe dark win- 
dow of the soul. 

"You gave that cop wrong im- 
pressions. 

The collar of the small man moved 
up his neck to grab the short hairs 
and pull at them and make him 
twitch his neck. An annoying itch. 
His collar was getting small and his 
neck too tight. He opened his mouth 
again, and again words refused to 
issue. He was a veritable mute. 
Suppose he might never speak 
again! 

"Before I go to get some lunch, 
I'd like to tell you something, " the 
tall man said with a show of dis- 
pleasure and contempt; "you ought 
to know yourself like I do. " He 
waved the folded sign reprovingly 
at the small man. "That's why I 
carry this sign, because I know my- 
self; not one of you could do it." 

The small man brought his right 
hand up slowly and put it to his 
forehead; and the big blackness got 
up hurriedly. He spoke as he rose. 
"No, you don't." 

Again the small man was fascin- 
ated by the long flow of the coat 
and the tall man's quick reflexes. 
He knew how to make his dramatic 
movements count. He looked down 
at the small man, who still sat on the 
white bench. "Friend, I have to eat 
and it's going to be a problem today, 
unless like a colleague you'll help 
me out. Not much money." 

He stood in front of the small man 
swaying with an easy rhythm, keep- 
ing slow time by having the furled 
sign go back and forth on the swivel 
of his hand, a metronome in largo 
time. 

"Brother, can you spare something. 



something that will show your ap- 
preciation of our meeting today? ' 

The small man looked at his face. 
It was in repose and could have been 
the visage of a Park Avenue clergy- 
man at the bedside of a dying patron. 
The small man's eyes were quiz- 
zical, unbelieving. He looked into 
the tall man's eyes, but the man 
never flinched. "I've fifteen cents. 
What could you get for that?" he 
said. 

He stopped moving the sign and 
held it in his left hand like a drum 
major holds his baton when he's not 
swinging it. 

The small man felt in the inside 
pocket of his inner coat, still watch- 
ing the shoes of the tall man. He 
took out a large, tooled-leather dark 
brown wallet and fingered a bill. 
The tall man's eyes went large at 
the sight of the expensive wallet and 
larger still at the bill. The tall man 
looked earnestly towards the wallet, 
and at the small man, and at the 
people coming up and down. He 
put out his hand before the dollar 
was free of the leather wallet. 

He took hold of the bill without 
saying a word and moved to descend 
the steps, with more hurry than 
seemed necessary. Maybe he was 
hungrier than he pretended. It was 
after lunch time. 

When he reached the sidewalk, 
he unfurled his sign and hung it 
again in its familiar place. From his 
pocket he brought out a tiny note- 
book and took it in his right hand. 
He held his notebook high. The 
small man stood to watch him, to 
hear him again. 

"Folks," the tall man cried out in 
his loud voice, "did you read your 



28 



Four Quarters 



Bible today? Even tlie clergy should 
read their Bible every day. ' 

When he said "clergy, " he turned 
with his sign so that he could look 
up to where the small man was 
standing. 

Neither man made any sign that 
they saw^ each other. As the tall 
man walked towards Sixth Avenue, 
the man at the bench kept his at- 
tention on him until he could no 
longer see him. Then he w^alked 
slovi^Iy up the remaining steps to 
the hbrary entrance. Before touch- 
ing the door to go in, he stopped. 



His needs were physical needs, 
but not food. He let his feet turn, 
and walked dow^n. He couldn't 
spend any time in the hbrary this 
afternoon, nor did he wish to take 
a walk in the street, or in the park, 
or along the river. 

Some inner voice told him that he 
would never feel invigorated until he 
reached his own apartment, and 
could take off his black clothes, and 
stepped under the shower. That 
might help him, would be a sign 
that the world he knew and hved 
in was still carrying on. 



To Beath 

(A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning) 
By Brother Adelbert 



There lie the smoking fields, the gaunt woods, charred 
And choked with demolition where the hand 
Of Fire stripped from them every sheathing band 
Of glory, leaving skeletons with sard 
Smoke rising from stalk brash and seared shard. 
And then He said to me: At your command 
Shall these stalks live, O son of man, and stand 
Forth clothed with leaves and fruit for your regard? 
Only the Vine remains, with long root deep 
Sunk in an ocean of ash; but the fruit of the Vine, 
Touched, tingles the brain like a knife on the teeth; 
Yet the pity of Fire is in this, to make me keep 
Five wits at arm's length while I drink the wine 
Lethal to Death, for whom I wove this wreath. 



The Theater in Phiiadetphia 

Is There a Doctor in the House? 

By Dan Rodden 

THE PLAYWRIGHT KaJ long been considered tKe primary artist of 
tKe theater; tKis notion has apparently been supplanted. The play- 
doctor is now your man. Or rather the play-speciahst; certainly the 
playwright is still a doctor, as in the sense of constant revision he always 
has been, but he is a general practitioner. In emergencies^-and in an age 
w^here plays cost a minimum of forty thousand dollars to produce, every 
sniffle is an emergency— 'he calls in the speciahst. Or if he does not see 
the need, and prefers to depend upon his own back-country skills to see 
the patient through out-of-town ailments to the crisis of a Broadway 
opening, members of the immediate family—- the producer and possibly 
the important backers'—are apt to go over his head and call in specialized 
assistance. 

The idea is not really new. In years past, such a specialist as Dr. 
George S. Kaufman M^as frequently consulted in doubtful cases; his repute 
was such that the G.P. was inclined to welcome his professional assistance. 
Drs. Lindsay and Grouse once ministered to a play diseased, called Bodies 
in the Cellar; it recovered and lived a full span as Arsenic and Old Lace. 
(Dr. Kesselring, the G.P. on that case, retired for a number of years there- 
after; he had diagnosed his patient as melodramatic, whereas specialists 
Lindsay and Grouse had more correctly seen symptoms of comedy, and 
had so treated. Kesselring achieved a certain reputation, however, which 
persisted until he was so unwise as to enter into general practice again last 
season with Four Times Twelve Is 48, whereupon his license was revoked.) 
Earliest of all still practicing. Dr. George Abbott is a specialist noted for 
dramatic recoveries. There have been others. 

But this is the Age of Specialization, and the past few seasons have 
seen a logical idea carried to illogical lengths. Which has been well 
demonstrated by the current try-out season in Philadelphia, especially by 
its first play. 

BAGK IN THE MID-THIRTIES, a relative halcyon period when we 
knew the empty feeling at the pit of our stomach was only hunger, a 
imber, bird-headed man and a sprightly, red-headed girl danced their 
way into the heart of America as had no such pair since Vernon Castle 
crashed his plane, and Irene married a McLaughlin and took up anti- 
vivisectionism. Not to make a rebus of it, the two in question were Fred 
Astaire and Ginger Rogers. 

Early in September, Miss Rogers returned to the stage for the first 
time in twenty-one years, or since she sang "Embraceable You ' in Girl 
Crazy. Her vehicle, to pervert meanings, was Louis Verneuil's Love and 

39 



50 Four Quarters 

Let Love, and opened tKe new season at the Forrest Theater. TKe opening 
was eagerly awaited. M. Verneuil had had considerable luck the season 
before with Affairs of State, and those who assumed it was nothing more 
than a personal triumph for Miss Celeste Holm were confounded by its 
continued success after she rehnquished her role to Miss June Havoc, who 
is no place hke Holm. The combination of circumstances seemed to 
augur well for a good night of comedy, and the advance sale bespoke 
confidence in this prediction. It was the chagrin of the opening night 
audience to discover that both their past pets had let them down badly. 
Verneuil had created, or more likely dusted off, an obvious and humorless 
piece, and Miss Rogers, though heaven knows no jury would ever convict 
her, was playing quite as obviously and humorlessly. 

I have a great deal of admiration for the charms of Mr. Alfred Lunt, 
and his phonetic acrobatics have always seemed to me quite effective and 
amusing. But this sort of play (I refer here to the suave, unfunny comedy 
of the sexes: cf. anything recent by Noel Coward excepting possibly Blithe 
Spirit) always seems to tempt the leading male actors into a vocal imper- 
sonation of Mr. Lunt, and Miss Rogers' associates, the Messrs. Paul 
McGrath and Tom Helmore, were not proof against this temptation. In 
view of the lines they were called upon to speak, you couldn't blame either 
of them for deciding to waive a legitimate characterization in favor of the 
Lunt technique. But I did feel it was going a little too far when Miss 
Rogers impersonated him, too. 

The Philadelphia reviewers were kindly disposed towards the venture, 
hence avoided discussion of the play and Miss Rogers' performance, rather 
concentrating upon how handsomely her dress designer had turned her 
out. How^ever, this did not quite satisfy the producers, perhaps influenced 
to doubt by the fact that large audiences, trapped into this prior commit- 
ment, were not amused. General practitioner Verneuil, professing not to 
be disturbed about the condition, issued an encouraging bulletin and 
several Gallic shrugs, and took off for Florida, thus displaying an attitude 
which, whether we continue the medical analogy or revert to theater 
practice, was rather unprofessional. And left the immediate family group 
to frantic thumbing of W^af To Do Till the Doctor Comes. 

Fortunately, or so it may have seemed at the time, help was at hand; 
the American Medical Association was having its annual convention at 
Atlantic City, and it was but an hour's fast drive to the bedside. Recog- 
nizable in the second-night crowd by their lapel insignia, a caduceus 
flanked by the masques of comedy and tragedy, the play-physicians were 
most notably represented by Drs. John van Druten and Abe Burrows. 
That Dr. van Druten is the eminent heart specialist, ex-Harley Street, 
whereas Dr. Burrows is the famed Brooklyn belly man, would seem clear 
indication that the patient was unable to say where it hurt. The tw^o 
learned gentlemen made a cursory investigation, shook their heads gravely. 



The Theater in Philadelphia 31 

and fled the case, suggesting only that the New England climate might 
help, but holding out no hopes for an eventual cure. 

Daunted, which is the infrequently-used opposite of nothing daunted, 
the producers arranged for a postponement of the New York crisis, and a 
short sojourn in Boston. During the initial period in the Athens of the 
West when no specialist would take the case, the patient tried home 
remedies: it was reported in Variety, a medical journal, that Miss Rogers 
and her cohorts were making up their own lines onstage, as a commedia 
gesture in the direction of doing something. This theatrical equivalent of 
Hadacol proving ineffective, the producers were finally able to prevail 
upon Dr. Sally Benson, noted specialist in the diseases of adolescence, to 
take over. Despite re-staging assistance from Dr. Bretaigne Windust, the 
two weeks in Boston seem to have had little result; when the patient reached 
Manhattan, the Philadelphia prognosis was justified. 

PAINT YOUR WAGON. A Musical Play by Frederick Loewe and 

Alan Jay Lerner, at the Shuhert Theater. 

The first musical this fall. Paint Your Wagon, held promise because 
it was the collaborative effort of the team which had provided the felicitous 
Brigadoon. In this instance, Loewe has given us music of some character, 
but Lerner's book^which, as a guess, has been cut from a hundred pages 
to something like forty^--is sentimental, poorly motivated, and simple- 
minded. (Simple-mindedness is not necessarily a vice in a musical play; 
here it is, because the trappings are epic.) The performers are mostly up 
to the demands of the script but^-unless you are a James Barton man, 
which I am not^-they never rise above it. One of the songs, "I Dream of 
Elisa," has a chance to become what is known as a standard, unless it is 
defeated by Lerner's obvious and saccharine final rime. Incidentally, the 
entire company was thrown into an absolute panic opening night by the 
presence in the audience of the aforementioned Dr. Burrows; it turned out 
he was there purely in a lay capacity, but it was several days before order 
was restored. Again, comforting Philadelphia reviews failed to reassure 
the producers, and again they scheduled further out-of-town treatment in 
Boston. (A buxom lady was heard to say, in the Shubert lobby after the 
show, "I liked it much better than Oklahoma]" I think, and I hope, that 
she is the same lady whom I overheard make the same remark last Spring, 
about Flahooley.) 

FAITHFULLY YOURS. A Comedy fcy L. Bush-Fehete and Mary Helen 
Fay, based on a play by Jean Bernard Luc, at the Forrest Theater. 
A tiresome and trivial item about a wife who attends a performance of 
Eliot's Cocktail Party and thereupon suspects her husband of psychosis 
because he is too faithful, this is a play where the initial premise is so 
ridiculously unacceptable that you resent it every time you laugh there- 
after. Such a motivation might possibly tee-off a domestic-type radio 
half-hour, or a fairly amusing eight-minute revue skit, but here attenuation 



5 a Four Quarters 

proves disastrous. No doctoring M^as even attempted, tKe producer ap- 
parently being aware that he had caught something hice the common cold, 
w^hich would last about two weeks whether or not treated. Again, as with 
Love and Let Love, you had to restrain your impulse to burst into the 
theater manager's office and declaim, loudly, "This is the Forrest's prime 
evil! " 

THE NUMBER. A Play By Arthur Carter, at the Walnut Street Theater. 
This melodrama was well-received by the Philadelphia critics, who 
pronounced it well-made, and praised the playing. What doctoring w^as 
necessary was accomphshed by its director, George Abbott, M.D., who 
removed an appendix (the leading lady!) and ventured other mild therapy. 
I didn't get to see it. For some unfair reason, I don't think it will run very 
long. 

TOP BANANA. A Musical Comedy By Hy Craft and Johnny Mercer, 

at the Shuhert Theater. 

I have been laughing at this material ever since I can remember, and 
I certainly don't intend to stop now. Top Banana has a poor score and an 
unreasonable plot, which turns out not to matter in the least. What does 
matter is that Phil Silvers gives one of the best-sustained comic perform- 
ances of recent memory and that the play incorporates every successfully 
rowdy bit of low^ comedy business since the first Aristophanic prat-fall. 
The only doctors in sight were the Messrs. Kronkhite and Quackenbush, 
who slapped the patient in the puss with a custard pie and beat about his 
head with an inflated bladder, whereupon the three went skipping merrily off 
to New York. I have no respect for this play whatsoever, and I certainly 
wish I had money in it. 

BAREFOOT IN ATHENS. A Play by Maxwell Anderson, at the Locust 

Street Theater. 

But for the resourceful and accomplished performance of Barry Jones 
as Socrates, Maxwell Anderson's most recent testimonial to democracy 
would be a piece uncomfortably mixed in tone. As it is, Mr. Jones makes 
the play succeed as comedy; it fails as the drama of ideas Anderson says 
he intended it to be. The comedy points are made because Jones is just 
the Socrates our meagre acquaintance imagines: constantly questioning, 
ever-seeking, humorous when serious and serious when humorous. The 
ideas fail because Anderson again belabors an already-convinced audience 
with the already accepted symbol. Democracy. Shaw's ideas, or Ibsen's, 
have controversial spark enough to lend an extra-theatrical excitement; 
Anderson's are platitudes. (That is, they are unless you remember Act II, 
Scene l of Joan of Lorraine, where he unwisely conceptualized and defined 
his notion of democracy, and disqualified himself as a thinker.) Obviously, 
no play-doctor would be called up by Anderson; his plays die, when they 
die, unattended and in the odor of sanctity.